Hearing Scheduled in DeRyke Case

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By WSIL Manager

EFFINGHAM CO. -- An Effingham County man serving life in prison for murdering his niece will appear in court again later this month.

Justin DeRyke, 23, of Watson, pleaded guilty in March to killing 7-year-old Willow Long and was sentenced to natural life in prison.

In April, DeRyke's attorney filed a motion to reconsider the sentence, arguing it was unconstitutional based on a 1998 Illinois Supreme Court ruling.

A hearing is scheduled for May 29.

Prosecutors say if the sentence is overturned, they'll use other provisions to seek a life sentence.

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